Hearth of Hellenism: Anthesteria, Celebrating Dionysus

Anthesteria, the Festival of Flowers, in honor of Dionysus is one of the most important festivals and it happens to be one I really enjoy. The festival was celebrated over a period of three days in antiquity, however in contemporary practice it is common for it to be observed in one day. Our community here in New York is celebrating Anthesteria this Saturday the 24th. The virtues of Piety (Ευσέβεια) and Integrity (Χρηστότης) are cultivated.

“Bacchus, and Ariadne” by Titian. From WikiMedia.

It was during Anthesteria that the Athenians would open the wine which had been fermenting since the harvest in the fall. Anthesteria is a holiday for the dead, as the holiday helps the souls that are in-between lives to progress. The living also benefited from the holiday as we seek healing from past wounds and our past lives.

Below is an outline of a ritual you can use at home by yourself or with others to celebrate Dionysus.

RITUAL

Opening Ritual

“Hear us/me Gods of Hellas, You we/I call upon, to come to us/me in good mind.
Hear us/me blessed ones and come to us/me from fire, from earth, from water, from air, and from Olympus.”
Wish to the Gods of the Hearth
“We/I invoke you Household God,
Overseer of the home
increaser of our possessions,
in every space, house or workshop
and always in charge.
We/I invoke your presence Goddess Hestia,
holy light,seated in the center, of every space, house or workshop
and always in charge
We/I invoke your presence Ephestian Gods
and divine ancestors,
pure sources of all generations
invisible just spirits
guides of your offspring.
Come to us/me in good spirits,
You who possess all the graces, come to this sacred ceremony
Heed our/my prayer with a favorable ear
Come to us/me and take away
troubles and illnesses,
Give us/me peace that brings happiness,
prosperity, well-being of the body
and increase the light of our minds”
“May it be!”

Hymn to Dionysus Perikionios
The Fumigation from Aromatics.

“Dionysos Perikionios, hear my pray’r,
who mad’st the house of Cadmus once thy care,
With matchless force, his pillars twining round,
(when burning thunders shook the solid ground,
In flaming, founding torrents borne along),
propt by thy grasp indissolubly strong.
Come mighty Bacchus to these rites inclin’d,
and bless thy suppliants with rejoicing mind.”

Hymn to Hermes Khtonisos
The Fumigation from Storax.

“Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell
O Bacchic Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysius, parent of the vine,
And of celestial Aphrodite Paphian queen, dark eye-lash’d Goddess of a lovely mien:
Who constant wand’rest thro’ the sacred feats where hell’s dread empress, Persephone, retreats;
To wretched souls the leader of the way when Fate decrees, to regions void of day:
Thine is the wand which causes sleep to fly, or lulls to slumb’rous rest the weary eye;
For Persephone’s thro’ Tart’rus dark and wide gave thee forever flowing souls to guide.
Come, blessed pow’r the sacrifice attend, and grant our mystic works a happy end.”

Hymn to Dionysus
The Fumigation from Storax.

“Dionysos I call, loud-sounding and divine, fanatic God, a two-fold shape is thine:
Thy various names and attributes I sing, O, first-born, thrice begotten, Bacchic king:
Rural, ineffable, two-form’d, obscure, two-horn’d, with ivy crown’d, euion, pure.
Bull-fac’d, and martial, bearer of the vine, endu’d with counsel Eubouleos and divine:
Triennial, whom the leaves of vines adorn, of Zeus and Persephone, occultly born.
Immortal dæmon, hear my suppliant voice, give me in blameless plenty to rejoice;
And listen gracious to my mystic pray’r, surrounded with thy choir of nurses fair.”

Closing of the Ritual

“Farewell Blessed ones, farewell eternal Gods,
To the pious worshipers, increase the Divine Light,

Disease, pains and decay take away to the ends of the earth.
May it be.”

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